The continuing medical education enterprise brought in more than $2.3 billion in revenues in 2006, according to the Accreditation Council for CME's annual data report. That figure represents a 6 percent increase over 2005. While the growth is a good sign, it's less of an increase than in previous years. In 2005, revenues increased 9 percent over 2004; in 2004 income rose 15 percent over the year before.

Another sign that the industry is healthy: There were 729 ACCME-accredited providers in 2006, compared to 716 in 2005. And they were busy -- sponsoring more than 93,000 activities, a 17 percent jump over 2005.

Many CME experts have predicted that drug and device companies would curtail their CME grants because of the regulatory environment. But the numbers show that pharmaceutical industry funding of CME continues to climb. Providers reported that they received more than $1.1 billion in commercial support in 2006, a 7.5 percent increase over 2005. Perhaps even a more positive sign is that the increase is greater than last year, when commercial support rose just 4 percent over 2004.

Publishing/education companies continue to bring in the lion’s share of commercial support, to the tune of $620 million in 2006 – 76 percent of their total income. Nonprofit physician membership organizations came in second, attracting $179 million in grants, representing 23 percent of their income. Medical schools brought in $259 million in grants, about 62 percent of their total income.

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